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2013 Mariners Draft Recap

The 2013 MLB Draft is in the books. It is a marathon, and thanks to the sheer volume of picks the draft gets tedious with brief moments of sunshine. There are things that happen in the MLB draft that are unlikely to happen in any other draft.

This year's crazy story goes to the Diamondbacks and Corey Hahn. Arizona took Hahn in the 34th round, even though he was paralyzed two years ago on a slide into second base. 34 was his jersey number, so the move was symbolic. They apparently have plans to involve Hahn in their front office too, so the move is a bit more beyond symbolism. Regardless, a cool story that just about no other draft besides baseball's would produce.

Meanwhile, closer to home, my alma mater had a player drafted! PLU pitcher Max Beatty was taken by the Padres, which is cool enough, but even cooler since he is already a cancer survivor. Again, name another sport that gives a Division III cancer survivor a chance in the pros.

The draft also had its share of famous names (at least in baseball circles) pop up. Verlander, Yastrzemski, Clemens all heard their names called. However, my favorite connection this year is The Citadel's Joe Jackson, picked in the fourth round by the Rangers. Jackson is a descendant of Shoeless Joe Jackson, and actually a pretty solid catcher. We will find out in the years to come if the current Jackson makes the majors, but he has a chance, and it would be cool to see a living connection to one of the more compelling characters in MLB history make the big leagues.

Enough about some league-wide happenings. Here is my recap of all the M's picks, 1 through 40:

  1. DJ Peterson, 1B, New Mexico - I didn't think Peterson would make it to the Mariners. I have questions about his power and defensive ability, but there are question marks all over the top of this year's draft. Peterson has some of the smallest concerns, and the M's could use a bat that should be able to stick at a corner (even first base). Peterson vows he is a third basemen until the M's switch him, but I would switch him immediately. Kyle Seager is pretty good, or at least better than Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero at this point. The Mariners are fortunate the board broke the way it did. Grade: A
  2. Austin Wilson, OF Stanford - There were some rumors that Wilson would be the M's first round pick. He has tools but lacks elite production, in part due to injuries that marked his college career. I would have preferred to see the M's pop a prep prospect here with some upside, but Wilson brings his own type of upside. He's much better value in the second round than he would have been in the first, and the Mariners could use another outfield bat. Grade: C
  3. Tyler O'Neill, RF, Garibaldi SS (Canada) - I won't pretend to know a bunch about O'Neill. An injury forced him to play shortstop this past year, apparently, moving in from the outfield. Shortstop is generally considered the most demanding defensive position on the diamond (though catcher is right up there too) so that seems like an odd trade to me. O'Neill's calling card is power and an aggressive style of play that reminds many scouts of from Canadian prep phenom Brett Lawrie. I like the M's strategy going with a prep bat here, and the injury makes me wonder if O'Neill slipped more than he should. Grade: B
  4. Ryan Horstman, LHP, St. John's - I don't get this pick. The Mariners drafted better pitchers in later rounds, as we shall see. Horstman looks like a hittable lefty from a decent but not great conference. Too early for a player like him to get picked. Grade: F
  5. Jack Reinheimer, SS, East Carolina - Reinhemier can't hit, plain and simple, and scouts seem to see him as a marginal defender at a premium position. He's going to have to hustle-and-grit his way to the majors. Sounds like a great guy to have as organizational depth, but this is not a point in the draft where I accumulate organizational depth. Grade: F
  6. Corey Simpson, RF, Sweeny HS (TX) - Simpson was scouted by many as a catcher, but the Mariners announced him as a right fielder. This is a good place for his arm and the decision might allow his bat to mature beyond an uppercut stroke filled with holes. Simpson is powerfully built, and could become a nice prospect if he finds a way to harness his power. Easier said than done though - just look at guys like Carlos Peguero. Grade: C-
  7. Tyler Olson, LHP, Gonzaga - Olson is a soft-tossing lefty with some nice off-speed pitches and terrific command. He is a good addition at this point in the draft. Olson's skillset plays up in Safeco Field (just ask Joe Saunders and Jason Vargas) and he could move quickly through the system. Grade: B
  8. Tyler Smith, SS, Oregon State - I think Smith is a better shortstop than Reinheimer, straight up. He lacks power, and because of that I would have liked to see fewer strikeouts. Still, not too bad of a pick at this stage in the draft. Smith has a solid all-around set of tools for a middle infielder this many picks into the draft. Grade: C
  9. Jake Zokan, LHP, College of Charleston - Zokan really produced in college, particularly for a pitcher that lasted to this round. A high BABIP and elevated (by college standards) home run rate, combined with few walks, suggest that Zokan is perhaps too aggressive inside the strike zone. Still, really nice pick. Grade: A
  10. Emilio Pagan, RHP, Belmont Abbey - It's hard to find much info on Pagan, though it appears he hit more than he pitched. Some scout must have seen something in him, particularly on the mound. Seems like a stretch to pick a player like him at this point in the draft. Pagan rounds out a string of five straight college seniors picked by the Mariners, which suggests a bit of a strategy on their part. Perhaps O'Neill and/or Simpson are projected to sign well over slot value? Still feel there were other college seniors available more intriguing than Pagan. Grade: F
  11. Zack Littell, RHP, Eastern Alamance HS (NC) - On paper Littell looks like a steal at this stage in the draft. He is an easy sign with a pretty live arm that has plenty of room for growth. Littell also played all around the diamond and even played football, both hints at some great athletic ability. It would be great to see the M's develop another prep prospect from beyond the premier picks, kind of like Brandon Maurer. Grade: A
  12. Justin Seager, 1B, Charlotte - Seager is the younger brother of Kyle Seager. He doesn't have much power yet, but laced the gaps with a ton of doubles. Kyle has developed more power than expected, and if Justin can do the same thing he might have a future in the M's organization. At the very least it is a nice gesture to the Seager family, though Justin has some hitting skills. Solid pick. Grade: A
  13. Lachlan Fontaine, 3B, Sutherland Secondary (Canada) - I don't invest enough time in Canadian prospects to say too much about Fontaine. I found a quote suggesting that Fontaine would go to school unless he went in the top 10 rounds (which he didn't, obviously) and I don't see much power in his stats at the very least. Fontaine seems like he'll be a tough sign, though at the same time the Mariners probably saved some money earlier on with all the seniors they picked. I'm not sure I'd spend a bunch extra here though. Grade: F
  14. Ian Miller, CF, Wagner - 46 steals. 'Nuff said. Dude has speed and some slap-hitting contact ability. I love this kind of skillset at this stage in the draft. It's nice to get a legitimately great tool so late into the draft process. Grade: A
  15. Eddie Campbell, LHP, Virginia Tech - Campbell's numbers aren't great, but scouts say he has good stuff that he's yet to harness. Sure enough, his high walk rate backs that assessment up. Campbell seems like a candidate to shorten up into a bullpen role and perhaps he could be a nice find. Good place in the draft to pick a pitcher like him. Grade: B+
  16. Lonnie Kauppila, SS, Stanford - Kauppila generated some buzz as a high school prospect but his commitment to Stanford was considered too strong to get him signed. He hasn't hit much at Stanford, but his defense has always been his calling card. I'd think he would go back to Stanford for his senior season, but I suppose we shall see. Grade: D
  17. Paul Fry, St. Clair County CC (MI) - I'm not sure what to make of Fry, assuming I have accurate stats. He apparently gave up 55 runs, but only 38 were earned. That speaks to some pretty shaky defense. I'm going to assume some scout had him clocked at some sort of promising velocity, or perhaps he throws a breaking ball that kept getting away from the catcher. That huge gap between runs and earned runs intrigues me though; I feel there is a story buried somewhere in there. Grade: C
  18. Troy Scott, RHP, Riverside CC (CA) - Scott didn't pitch much on a team that, based on cumulative team statistics, wasn't very good and/or plays in a pitcher's paradise. Scott must have done something interesting in a bullpen session. It's not that he pitched bad, he just didn't pitch much. He wouldn't have been my first choice off the pitching staff, looking at the stats, but he was the first picked. Grade: D
  19. Jeff Zimmerman, 1B, Northern Illinois - Zimmerman has a decent bat without much power. Looks like organizational depth to me, but that's the nature of the draft at this point. He has absolutely no power though, which is interesting. Grade: D
  20. Daniel Torres, C, St. Leo University (FL) - Torres improved his power considerably in the past year, though his hitting skills are iffy at best. He's a math major though, which I thoroughly support. I'll grade him higher simply for that. Grade: C+
  21. Brett Thomas, OF, Oregon - Thomas strikes out a ton, but despite that produced in the Pac-12. He has some speed and a bit of power. It's an interesting mix of skills that hint at more upside than a typical pick at this stage in the draft. I kind of like this pick. Grade: B
  22. Tommy Burns, RHP, Howard College - Burns racked up some strikeouts, though also earned runs in the JUCO ranks. That's about all I have to say about him. Grade: C-
  23. Kyle Petty, 1B, California University of Pennsylvania - Cal U of Pennsylvania is home of the Vulcans, which is such an awesome-sounding mascot! I digress. Petty is pretty awesome himself, and happens to be the first Vulcan drafted since 1995. He was highly productive his whole career, though particularly as a senior. I love it when highly decorated seniors from small schools get drafted, so I love this pick. Grade: A
  24. Kevin McCoy, RHP, Kennesaw State - McCoy didn't pitch much, but when he did he was ineffectively wild. If he gains some command he could be a decent reliever. Grade: B+
  25. Will Mathis, LHP, New Mexico - Mathis has horrible numbers, but he was a lefty reliever playing in a mile-high stadium (literally). Maybe a bit more command and a friendlier pitching environment will reveal he is a better pitcher than the numbers suggest. Grade: D
  26. Tyler Wright, LHP, Arkansas - Wright didn't pitch much in relief either, but also didn't give up a run. Perhaps he got lost in the shuffle at an SEC school and has something to offer. Grade: A-
  27. Ricky Claudio, RHP, St. Thomas University - Claudio has a high ERA but also a high strikeout rate. His 6 wild pitches suggest bad control, but also could be a signal of nasty stuff that a pro catcher is more capable of blocking. Worth a flier at this point in the draft. Grade: B
  28. Zach Shank, SS, Marist - Super productive senior at a premium position, though against lower competition. Still, I'm surprised he was available at this point in the draft. I'm not sure I'd call Shank a steal, but he's got an awesome name and shouldn't have made it this far without getting selected. Grade: A
  29. Chantz Mack, RF, Miami (FL) - Mack's best asset is his plate discipline. He lacks power and elite speed, though he can run a bit. More than anything, Mack seems to be a very smart ballplayer on paper, and that's a good type of player to add as a teammate for more raw, unpolished prospects. Grade: A
  30. Rafael Pineda, RHP, Texas A&M - Perhaps the Mariners mistakenly thought they were drafting Michael Pineda all over again. They aren't. Pineda used smoke and mirrors to post a good season for the Aggies. Smoke and mirrors are a dangerous/impossible way to live as a pro, though perhaps there is some untapped potential in his 6'6" frame. Grade: D
  31. Michaelangelo Guzman, LHP - I have no idea if I even found the correct player. He is a diamond in the rough, to say the least. Grade: D
  32. Nathaniel Maggio, 1B, Blessed Trinity HS (GA) - God bless YouTube, and the commendable camerawork of a big Maggio fan. Grade: C
  33. Corey Ray, CF, Simeon Career Academy (IL) - Fun fact: Simeon Career Academy is a vocational high school that is a part of Chicago's public school system. They also haven't had a player drafted since 2008, until now at least. Grade: C
  34. Taylor Snyder, 2B, Salem Hill HS (UT) - Snyder looks like a classic prep player picked too late to sign, unless the M's go way over slot to get him. In general, the strategy seemed to be to pick high schoolers at the end unlikely to sign. Perhaps pooling all the bonus money together lets the Mariners find a way to sign one or two of them. Grade: C
  35. Marshawn Taylor, SS, Simeon Career Academy (IL) - Some scout must have got rewarded for some hard work with a few picks thrown their way. Seems odd to me that the M's took two players from Simeon Career Academy so close to each other. Grade: C
  36. JC Snyder, 3B, Salt Lake CC (UT) - His favorite drill is taking ground balls! Grade: C
  37. Jordan Cowan, SS, Kentlake HS (WA) - Local product! Grade: C+
  38. Michael Sexton, 3B, Rogers HS (WA) - Local product again! Grade B
  39. Sam Hellinger, RHP, West Seattle HS (WA) - I sense a theme to finish the M's draft! Grade: A
  40. Mike McCann, C, Columbia River HS (WA) - In all honesty, I find it cool that the Mariners supported the local high schools to finish this draft. It's good for baseball in the area. Plus, who knows, maybe one of these kids really wants to say they were drafted and signed by the hometown nine. Grade: A+
Overall, it seems the Mariners had a strategy in this draft that went beyond picking the best available player. They grabbed power hitters early, then intertwined streaks of college seniors with streaks of prep players. The Mariners will publicly say they want to sign everybody, but I think many from this draft class will go unsigned, because I see a few signing for over slot.

I gave out 11 'A's, 7 'B's, 12 'C's, 6 'D's, and 4 'F's, so it is pretty clear that I approve of the draft class as a whole. Perhaps I was too easy of a grader though. Time will tell.